بسـم اللَّه الرّحـمٰـن الـرّحيـم
اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين، وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى سيدنا محـمَّدٍ، خاتم الأنبياء والمرسلين، وَعلـى آلـه وَصَحْبِـهِ أجمـعـين
Honourable Speaker of the Parliament, and esteemed Members of this Parliament;
الســّلام عليــكم ورحـمــة اللّـه وبـركاتـه
By the grace of Almighty Allah, over the past year the Government has made great strides meeting the previously unmet needs of the Maldivian people, including through the completion of numerous development projects. The Government’s focus has been on improving economic and social sectors, while ensuring that its citizens are able to live happy, independent lives, where they face no impediments to the fulfilment of their daily wants and needs.
This year, we launched ‘Tharika’ (‘Heritage’), a national project geared towards Maldivian students and youth to reinforce our Islamic unity and unwavering patriotism.
In support of this endeavour, services provided by the Centre for the Holy Quran has been expanded to include sermons and religious lectures, to be housed in an auditorium specifically built for this purpose at what will be the King Salman Mosque. This place of worship will accommodate 9000 of the faithful. Construction has now commenced. It will be completed this year.
The Government’s policy on governance focuses on safeguarding our sovereignty and protecting State interest, to ensure the serenity of the Maldives, and the safety of its citizens, the tourists who visit it, our investors and their assets.
Last year, the first-ever technical assessment of crime in the country, based on crime statistics for the past 9 (nine) years, was undertaken. The findings of this study show that the crime rate has reduced by 35% over the past four years.
The Maldives’s stature has increased in the international arena, including through continued leadership exhibited by the Maldives.
The Maldives is currently seeking election to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member from the Asia-Pacific region for the term-2019-2020. If successful, the Maldives will have an opportunity to continue building its reputation internationally and to continue being an advocate for small island nations, building upon the leadership we have already shown on issues such as the environment, development and terrorism.
The Maldives has maintained good relations with financial institutions such as Asia Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and the ‘Export-Import’ banks of many countries, as well as other investment banks. Through such engagement, the Maldives has been able to secure funding for numerous national projects. Just five days ago, the Maldives was granted 160 million USD from the Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates’ Funds for Development.
‘HIYA’ (‘Shelter’), the biggest housing project launched by the Government this year, to be completed next year, is expected to provide housing to more than 160,000 people residing in the Maldives.
This project will be compelled in a portion of the 240 hectares of land that was reclaimed under the Hulhumalé Phase II project. In addition to the expansion of the greater Malé area, 311 hectares of land have been reclaimed in 9 rural islands. This is an area equivalent to 20 islands.
As fishermen have faced difficulties in sourcing ice over the past four years, the Government has been working on a structural development project to construct at least one ice plant in every atoll of the Maldives. God willing, this project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
It has now been decided that a substantial sum of the previously mentioned 160 million USD loan, given to us by the Governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, will be utilized to develop the fisheries industry, to the benefit of fishermen, including through modernized fishing vessels.
Mariculture business projects, such as the bait production project worth 11 million USD launched last year, have been initiated by the Government to expand and diversify the fisheries industry, reducing its on one type of fishing. The Government has also decided to provide fishermen with vessel locating devices for their fishing fleets, free of charge, to ensure and ease their burden of compliance to our fishing regulations.
58 individuals have been granted loans to increase participation of young fishermen and captains in the fisheries industry. 115 individuals based in rural islands, have also received loans to start sea cucumber farming businesses.
Since last year, under our policy to reduce the number of imported goods to the Maldives, farmers are being encouraged to produce similar products. Work is underway to create a loan scheme, where up to 6 million MVR will be made available to farmers to farm these products. Hopefully, we will decrease the import of such goods by 25% by increasing production to 1,866 tons of produce which will make its way to our local markets.
Schools will be made eco-friendly. Digital technology will be introduced to support teaching and learning. By the beginning of the second term for this academic year, all schools will have Wi-Fi and all students from grades 1 to 12 will receive computer tablets. The Maldives will be the first country to educate all of its students in this way. Students who graduate from our schools will be technologically literate. As such their odds of succeeding in the work place in the 21st century would be higher.
Digitizing the schools would reduce the burden of having teachers physically present in each school, as students could then be taught virtually.
Under the Government initiative to provide tertiary education opportunities to all students who complete higher education, the percentage of students in tertiary education has increased from the 19% ,4 years ago, to 32%. The Government aims to increase enrolment in tertiary education to 60% by 2022.
The percentage of students who sat for O’level exams and passed in 5 subjects last year, have increased to 77%. This is a percentage increase of 28% compared to 2013.
God willing, the 25-storey ‘Dharumavantha Hospital’ will open this year. Inclusive of a diagnostic centre, it will provide new and improved health care services for the country. The bed capacity of IGMH will be increased to 500.
Previously unavailable health care services in the Maldives have been introduced over the past three years. The National Cardiac Centre established in 2016 has now enabled 5,300 heart disease patients to receive treatment.
Since November 2013, the Administration’s renal disease treatment guarantee policy has seen the introduction of dialysis services in 6 atolls. 44 individuals have also had government funded kidney transplant operations abroad over the past 4 years.
Consultations with oncologists and chemotherapy services are available at the specialist cancer centre established in Hulhumalé. Cancer treatment is also available at clinics in the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and the Vilimalé hospital.
The tertiary hospital to be opened in Addu City this year will have a bed capacity of 100. Thalassemia screening services will also be available this year in hospitals across the country
The first ever medical college in the Maldives will be established this year. Students will have the opportunity to do their medical internships at IGMH, allowing them to reside in their motherland with their families.
More than 76,000 new jobs have been created for youth. This has been possible due to the growth of the economy.
Over the past 4 years Maldivian athletes have competed in international sports and won 10 gold medals, 5 silver medals and 16 bronze medals.
Noteworthy infrastructure projects with regards to sports include the Sports Arena and game courts. 80% of the construction work of the Sports Arenas has been completed while 380 game courts have been built across the country. A football training academy, up to FIFA standards, will also be constructed in Hulhumalé within the year.
Forty-five kilometres of roads are being constructed in the 9 most populated islands in the Maldives. Road construction work will continue in 12 more islands until the end of this year.
The harbours of forty-eight islands have now been completed and the construction of harbours in 30 more islands will be concluded by the end of this year. This will solve the difficulties inherent to boarding and disembarking to and from sea travel vessels, for seventy-eight islands. Harbour development projects, including dredging projects, are also underway for thirty-one islands and these have been equipped with harbour entrance lights. Thus, over the past five years we have solved the problem of sea transport for 109 out of 187 inhabited islands.
Over the past four years, sewerage systems have been established in twenty-one islands, while this infrastructure will be further developed in forty-two more islands over the course of this year. Thus, by the end of 2018, 75% of the Maldivian population will have sewerage systems.
In the past four years, up-to-date water systems have been established in twenty-two islands. This year, work is expected to start on establishing such systems in twenty-four more islands.
The price of providing water in the atolls has been reduced and from 1 January 2018 we have equalized the price of water in the atolls with that of Malé.
In the past four years, water storage facilities have been established in twenty-nine islands, while 2018 will see the establishment of these systems in an additional eighty-six islands. Once this work has been completed, we will have a permanent solution to the water shortage problems being faced by some islands from time to time.
From 1 March 2018, as part of the work being done to equalize the price of electricity in Malé and Atolls, the rate within the domestic use category and up to 400 units of electricity in the atolls will be made to match the rate in Malé.
It is expected for the work being undertaken to establish airports at H.Dh Kulhudhuffushi, Sh. Funadhoo, N. Maafaru and G.Dh Maavaarulu to be completed within this year. We expect these efforts to ease domestic transport in the Maldives. Further, in order to create job opportunities for our youth and expand tourism to all regions, work will also commence to establish an airport near H.A Hoarafushi this year.
Our economic growth rate has increased from 6.2% in 2016 to 6.9% in 2017, which is a testament to the speed at which our economy is growing.
In the past year, the tourist arrivals in the Maldives have increased by 8%, with more than 1.3 million tourists visiting. This is a huge achievement for our tourism industry.
This year will see the inauguration of twenty-four islands which have been leased for tourism purposes. Together with two new city-hotels, the number of beds in the country will increase to more than 5,300.
As of the end of 2017, the GDP per capita stands at 9,671 USD.
While the national reserves held 586.2 million USD at the end of 2017, this amount is expected to increase to 600 USD million this year.
With God’s grace, the Maldives’ income is increasing every year and therefore, we expect to earn 22.4 billion MVR in revenue this year.
A lot of work has been carried out in the past four years in order to create business opportunities, to bring in investments and to develop small and medium business enterprises. We are now seeing the results of this hard work. A clear example is the Free Trade Agreement signed with China, which enables us to export our products to China without any duties.
In the next five years 1.6 billion USD is to be invested, through 40 foreign investments registered last year in the tourism industry. And from industries other than tourism, 50 investments have been registered, representing an investment capital of1.8 billion USD over the next five years.
The feasibility study and the master plan for the ‘iHaven” project to develop Ihavandhippolhu have been completed.
Since Malé, Hulhumalé and Villingili have huge populations, 27 lagoons in Malé Atoll have been given to private parties for development under the project, aimed at providing employment opportunities for our youth. Furthermore, the Government budget has born the expenditure for the dredging of 5 lagoons to be given for tourism development, to raise capital for further development. Insha’Allah, 47,000 jobs will be created after these lagoons are developed. And God willing, the work to develop these lagoons will finish within the next five years.
In the past four years this Government has proven its dedication and commitment to serve the Maldivian people. Looking to the future, the aim of the Government is to work for the development and progress of the Maldivian nation, with the belief that the truest measure of national development is the citizen’s happiness and contentment. We strive to bring vast investments to the Maldives and increase the State’s ability to develop sustainably.. Similarly, through ensuring that public welfare becomes a priority, we aim to make the Maldives an upper middle income country in both name and practice.
May Allah enlighten our beloved nation with the rays of peace and stability. May the Almighty protect the nation’s independence and sovereignty from any threat it may face. Ameen.
وما توفيقى إلاّباللَّـه، عليه توكّلت، وإليه أنيب
والسّـلام عليـكم ورحمــة اللّـه وبركاتـه